If you regularly read such resources as this one then you have probably seen a lot of overclocks and a lot of experimental equipment. The internet is filled with this new found craze and while overclocking has been with us since the first Personal Computers, it's popularity has increased dramatically over the last few years. Maybe breaking the Gigahertz barrier has installed a new found love of speed into the average consumer as it seems even those with only a basic computing knowledge have tried to find the limits of their CPU's speed. But even the aforementioned user who lacks a rounded understanding of PC fundamentals realizes that overclocking comes at a price and that of course is heat. The faster your CPU is running, the hotter it becomes particularly if you are defying manufactures' recommendations and push the performance levels to the limit. Many have opted for bigger heatsinks and faster fans in their quest for stability and performance while some have taken the more extreme route of water-cooling or even chemical cooling. Water-cooling kits are becoming increasingly mainstream as they offer a relatively easy route to temperature satiability and the prices of such kits have dropped dramatically. But what if you hunger for better cooling but don't have access to the more exotic chemicals it can sometimes take to chill that CPU? Enter Chip-Con with their innovative Prometeia system, a case that refrigerates your CPU for those huge overclocks? Sounds very promising indeed but Chip-Con insist this performance doesn't require a rocket scientist to set it up, sounds even better. Let's see what the Prometeia is all about and whether this is one product overclocking fans should really own...
This isn't advanced science class but this also isn't play-group; I'll attempt to run the middle ground here. I'll explain the basic idea behind such systems and how it works in the real world but don't expect me to pass any exams! What we should be interested in here is the practical 'real world' applications of such a system and what it can bring to the overclocker.
In order to conceptulize the process you may wish to view this short animation of the process. The layout may be slightly different but the principles remain unchanged.
Into the microfreezer a refrigerant is pumped, upon evaporation, and thus now containing a lot more energy as particles are now in a vapor state, the vapor is sucked into the part labeled 'compressor'. The vapor is indeed compressed in a manner of speaking which we can suggest is how they arrived at the name. This compressed vapor is forced toward the condenser who's job it is to remove some of the energy present. The refrigerant is then moved into a small capillary tube thus re-increasing the energy contained within the refrigerant, it's now very close to starting the process again as it's starting to once more evaporate. When the journey is complete it will have reached the CPU again which provides the particles with more energy from it's heat emissions and thus we end up with vapor again.
But that explains a powered state, what about startup? In theory the relative pressure throughout the system is constant at startup i.e.. It's all the same. When the coolant is first being sucked out of the microfreezer pressure is built by the condenser. It's also important to note that there is a small amount of oil present in the system, we shall see why below. At startup the system waits for the pressure to build in the condenser, this part is cooled by a powerful fan, and when enough pressure is obtained the drop of oil falls back into the evaporator and the vapor is pushed to the microfreezer As we can see from the image above the natural process of gravity ensures the oil can always end up in the evaporater as doesn't reach the microfreezer
That is how it's visualized in my head and I hope I have at least offered a gateway to a better understanding of the process. Many resources exist all over our beloved 'net so those of you who wish to obtain more information on the subject will no doubt be able to find it within a few minutes of searching.
It looks hard, it looks complex, it looks totally unnecessary! All things I'm sure you have thought about systems like this one, I know, I thought it too. But having used this system for a few weeks now it would be hard to turn away from obvious performance gain and piece of mind it gives to you. Imagine never having to worry about heat again, or indeed always knowing you can push your CPU that little bit extra. It's a real luxury to have such piece of mind, something we don't always have a great deal of in this strangely unreliable industry. It's save to say I recommend this system, heck.. It's hard to say just how much I like it.
I would be remiss if I didn't report on the support offered by Steen and his team throughout this review. In my eyes this is a huge factor that will affect all future purchase decisions. The support I and many others have received from Chip-Con has been nothing short of amazing. Replies to emails usually came within a few hours at the most and even very late at night. The first initial problem I had was that half of the instruction book had been lost somewhere in transit, the support team were exceptional emailing me various versions of the document and sending a hard copy. They also flew a new CPU kit to England when they knew I was using a TH7II which has a few ill placed capacitors. In fact they identified the problem before I had even opened the unit.
Also I have yet to focus on the noise levels of this system, primarily because there are none! Throw those Delta's away because the only real noise is at startup where the main unit's fan is most active. Thankfully Prometeia's fan is only activated when needed most and will auto adjust to a slower speed when not needed. Even when the fan is rotating at full speed, the noise is a lot quieter than a standard case with three case fans. There is a whine from fans at times but it's never intrusive. I'm very impressed at just how quiet this system really is.
It's an amazing system but as with most things there are negatives. Firstly that diabolical case, poorly constructed and very hard to manipulate, I would really expect a higher quality housing solution for such a high end device. As I noted before, it's rather easy to change it but should we have to? I'm not so sure. Secondly the boot time will be a problem for people who turn on their PC and expect it to run it for a few minutes only to check emails or suchlike before working. It does take over five minutes to boot but as I also noted previously, you rapidly become used to this and it isn't a problem after a few days. Such amazing cooling does have to have downsides after all. I feel while competitive with similar units, the price will be an obstacle for some. It's an expensive piece of equipment without doubt. If we are to consider what you receive for your money, the price seems almost fair and its more reasonably priced than a Vapochill for example.
Those negatives don't really take the shine of such an amazing unit though, there is little that can beat the Prometeia for sheer performance and overclocking fun. It is to Chip-Con's credit they have produced such an amazing unit and one that will last you a long time. Couple that with their superb support and we have a product more worthy of a 'Power Buyer' award than anything I have seen previously. Prometeia will transform your overclocking world, the faint hearted need not apply, those with more performance vigor will revel in this great system.
1. A CPU that will never reach above minus ten degrees!
2. Ease of installation of the CPU unit
3. Very low noise levels
4. A well supported product.
1. Long boot times.
2. A very poor case.
3. Relatively expensive